Chelsea - Reading Preview: Blues never beaten in nine home matches against Royals
Both teams prepare for this clash on the back of positive opening results in their first league match of the season - the hosts beat Wigan while the visitors drew with Stoke City
By Miles Chambers
Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry, Cole
Ramires, Mata, Hazard
Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte
McCleary, Guthrie, Leigertwood, McAnuff
Roberto Di Matteo has a relatively unhindered squad although there are numerous question marks over who will start and where.
Marko Marin was absent (hamstring) from the Blues’ first game away to Wigan and is unlikely to return as quickly as midweek. Ramires (illness) was another who missed the game at the DW Stadium but will more than likely slot into the first team at Ryan Bertrand’s expense.
Oscar will hope to make the move from substitute to starting line-up but it might be too soon for the Brazilian playmaker. Di Matteo seems to have settled on David Luiz and John Terry as the centre-back partnership for now meaning Gary Cahill will probably watch from the bench.
Reading’s only injured player is midfielder Jimmy Kebe (hamstring), whom manager Brain McDermott has confirmed will miss the start of the season. Striker Jason Roberts will serve the final match of his ban for a red card received back in April when the club were still in the Championship.
The Royals manager might choose to take Pavel Pogrebnyak out of the side in place of an extra midfielder, in which case Garath McCleary - who won the penalty which allowed the side to bring the scores level in the 90th minute this weekend - could get the nod.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
Chelsea did not have a good pre-season heading into this Premier League campaign. They had lost their previous three games in a row, before beating Wigan, including a 3-1 loss away to Brighton and Hove Albion.
- Branislav Ivanovic and Frank Lampard (pictured right) scored the goals that gave Roberto Di Matteo’s a win in their first game of the season against the Latics.
- Fernando Torres will be a key figure for the Champions League winners this campaign as the club adjusts to life without Didier Drogba. The £50 million striker will want to average higher than the one goal he scored for every 318 minutes he spent on the pitch during last season’s league matches.
- The west London team beat all three of the promoted teams in the prior season at home, though each side managed to get onto the scoresheet in the 90 minutes.
- Reading have won eight of their last 11 league matches away from the Madejski Stadium.
- The Blues, on the other hand, have won nine of their last 11 competitive ties at Stamford Bridge.
- Ryan Bertrand, who started Chelsea’s game against the Latics on Sunday, spent a season on loan with the Royals in the 2009-10 season. He came third in the club’s voting for Player of the Season. The winner? New Tottenham signing Gylfi Sigurdsson.
- Reading have never beaten the Blues in a competitive match away from home in nine attempts. The last time Wednesday’s visitors conquered Chelsea in a league match was way back in November 1926.
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Top 3 Predictions
Chelsea FC 3-0 Reading
- 24.37 %
Chelsea FC 4-0 Reading
- 12.52 %
Chelsea FC 3-1 Reading
- 12.16 %
|Premier League (EPL)||30 Jan 2013||Reading 2 - Chelsea FC 2|
|Premier League (EPL)||22 Aug 2012||Chelsea FC 4 - Reading 2|
|Club Friendlies (FR)||1 Aug 2009||Reading 2 - Chelsea FC 2|
|19 May 2013||Chelsea FC 2 - Everton 1||EPL|
|15 May 2013||Benfica 1 - Chelsea FC 2||EL|
|11 May 2013||Aston Villa 1 - Chelsea FC 2||EPL|
|8 May 2013||Chelsea FC 2 - Tottenham 2||EPL|
|5 May 2013||Manchester United 0 - Chelsea FC 1||EPL|
|12||John Obi Mikel||Midfielder|
|9||Adam Le Fondre||Striker|
After being criticised for his performance in the Community Shield against Manchester City, Eden Hazard was reaping the praise after Sunday’s showing.
Two assists - the first a classy turn and perfectly weighted through ball, the second a clever change of pace to win a penalty - in the first eight minutes of the game gave Chelsea victory in a potentially tricky tie at Wigan.
The former Lille attacker will be keen to show his new fans and team-mates he can keep his form at a high level to ensure the talent Di Matteo has waiting in the wings - Oscar, Marin, Daniel Sturridge, Raul Meireles - continue to wait their turn to shine.
|Adam Le Fondre|
His more highly-rated striking team-mate Pavel Pogrebnyak played appallingly on Saturday, so it was up to Adam Le Fondre to score a penalty late in the game to ensure their first match back in the top flight was not a complete disaster.
His impressive work-rate will need to continue throughout the season if Reading - favourites among most pundits to succumb to relegation - are to still be in the Premier League in 12 months time.
The Blues were far from comfortable in their weekend win over Wigan but at home they should be more at ease. With the attacking talents of Hazard, Lampard and Fernando Torres at their disposal, a more confident and calculating Chelsea ought to be on display at Stamford Bridge.
Expect Reading not to go down with a whimper and fight for the first half an hour, but it would be a huge shock if Roberto Di Matteo’s men came away from this clash with nothing other than three points and a boosted goal difference.